Can You Negotiate Rent?
Negotiating rent isn’t common, but there are some situations where it may make sense. Here’s what you need to know about how to negotiate rent.
January 6, 2022
Housing prices are rising across the nation, and a surge in home prices is now leading to rapid increases in rent for millions of Americans. With inflation on the rise, the trend is likely to continue.
The prevailing advice is to downsize to a smaller living space when faced with rent increases. But what if you don’t want to move, or there aren’t any affordable rentals in your area?
Can you negotiate rent with your landlord? In some cases, it’s possible.
We’ll shed light on how to negotiate rent and how to save money on rent.
Can you negotiate rent?
Rent may be able to be negotiated when you’re first signing a lease, as well as when you’re renewing an existing lease. Negotiating halfway through your lease term is unlikely to be successful.
Negotiating rent is certainly not common, but it’s possible, particularly if you can advertise yourself as a great tenant or offer the landlord something in return.
In many cases, tenants can find creative ways to pay for rent discounts, such as helping with maintenance or yard work.
For example, if you’re handy around the house and can offer to keep up with repairing minor issues, the landlord may be willing to offer you a discount on rent.
Likewise, if you’re willing to commit to a longer lease term (36 months instead of the standard 12 months, for example), the landlord may be willing to lower the rent in exchange for the stability of a longer contract.
Other situations that may warrant rent negotiation include:
If you’re a single person living in a multi-bedroom apartment (fewer people generally means less damage to the apartment)
If you’re in a pet-friendly unit, but you don’t have pets (again, this means less damage to the property)
If you’re able to prepay for several months at a time (instead of regular monthly rent checks)
If you don’t use your parking spot and could give it up to another tenant
When to negotiate rent
As for when to negotiate, these are the most common circumstances:
When you’re first signing a new lease
When your lease is up for renewal
When your lease is up for renewal and the landlord is increasing the rent
Don’t wait until the last minute if you’re negotiating an existing lease. Contact your landlord at least a month or two before your lease renews to discuss your options.
This is more respectful to the landlord and gives you more bargaining power as you still have time to move out if need be.
Seasonal variables could also affect the likelihood of successfully negotiating rent. For example, winter is generally a slower time for landlords, so they may be more willing to work with you.
On the other hand, April through September is typically busy for landlords, with many people moving in and out, and demand for rentals is higher.
How to negotiate rent on a new home
If you’re looking around for a new house or apartment, this is perhaps the best time to negotiate for a better deal on rent.
This is particularly true if plenty of rentals are available in your area.
If you’re in a tighter real estate market without many available options, you’ll have less leverage to negotiate.
Ultimately, negotiating should focus on finding a mutually beneficial situation. You’re not trying to “win” against your landlord — you’re trying to find a deal that works well for both of you.
With this in mind, think about what you could offer the landlord in exchange for a lower rent. Some ideas include:
Offering to sign a 2-year or 3-year lease, instead of the standard 1-year
Offering to pay 2 or 3 months of rent ahead of time
Offering to help out with maintenance around the property
Offering to pay for an upgraded appliance in the apartment (which would benefit you while you lived there but would benefit the landlord long-term)
Offering to help manage other rental units on the same property (in an apartment complex, for example)
It’s also important to come prepared. Gather important information, such as:
Reference letters from prior landlords
Pay stubs or proof of income
Can you negotiate rent on your existing home?
What if you already live in an apartment or house and you’d like to reduce your rent? Admittedly, this is trickier, as you don’t have much leverage to negotiate with.
It’s still possible, however. In most cases, your focus should be on highlighting how good a tenant you have been.
Remind the landlord that you’ve paid your rent on time every month, kept the unit in good condition (offer to show the landlord around the place), and bring up anything else that makes you stand out.
Landlords appreciate clean, responsible tenants that don’t cause issues. If you can prove that you fit this profile, you may be able to negotiate a better deal.
Improving your credit score to become a better-qualified tenant
When you apply for a new apartment or house, one of the first things many landlords do is pull your credit report. They use credit score as a rough estimate of how “responsible” you are. While your qualifications as a tenant shouldn’t come down to a single report, it’s often the first metric landlords turn to.
If you can take steps to improve your credit score and credit history, you’ll be considered a better tenant on paper. This can help improve your odds of negotiating rent and help you in many other ways. Read this guide to learn how you can improve your credit score.
Making sure to pay your bills on time can improve your credit. And paying off existing debt can help lower your credit utilization, providing a boost to your credit score.
If you’re trying to pay down credit card debt, Tally† may be able to help. Tally is a powerful app that may help qualifying Americans get out of credit card debt faster. Learn how it works here.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% - 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.